How Your Car’s AC Can Protect You from Pollution

Nobody enjoys their daily commute to and from work. For most, it involves way too many traffic jams and insanely long red lights. But there is another reason to dislike your drive to work that you might not know about. It is during this time that you experience most of your daily exposure to harmful pollutants that can contribute to heart disease and respiratory problems.

Despite the high concentrations of pollutants found on the road, there is something scientists have recently discovered that can help reduce your exposure. It turns out all you need to do is turn on your car’s air conditioner.

dunbarlawfirm.com

To reach this conclusion, scientists tested all the different combinations of air conditioner and fan settings inside vehicles while monitoring pollutants both inside and outside each car. They also tested levels in the car with the windows up and then down. In addition, they tested the pollution levels in various traffic conditions that are common for commuters, including being stuck behind a large diesel-powered vehicle, driving past construction work, stuck in highway traffic, and being stopped at a red light.

What the researchers found is that simply turning on the car’s air conditioner reduced pollutant levels inside the vehicle by up to 34%. This happens even though the air conditioner is pulling air from outside (where the pollutants come from). When the dirty air passes across the cold evaporator of the AC, the cold surface attracted the dirty particles in the air. Thus, they stuck to the evaporator surface instead of being pulled into the car, where a person could breathe them. This is why turning on the air conditioner is more effective at reducing in-car pollution that turning on the fan by itself, which runs the air through the same filter that the air conditioner uses.

AC systems also seemed to offer the most protection when following high-polluting vehicles like large trucks. When following such vehicles, air pollution outside the tested cars was three times higher than inside the car, as long as the air conditioner was on. The scientists also discovered that drivers could further minimize exposure by rolling down their windows once the truck or bus is no longer around. This allows any lingering buildup of pollutants in the car to dissipate. They also recommend rolling down windows for a period of time after exiting a congested freeway, an area that is another major source of pollutants.

If your car’s AC doesn’t work, though, don’t worry too much. The researchers also found that just keeping your windows closed when in heavy-pollution situations helped reduce in-car air pollution between 8 and 44%. Unfortunately, the scientists who conducted this study did not say what to do during the cold winter months, when running the air conditioner in your car is an impossibility.

Next Article
ADVERTISEMENT
  • The South’s Most Haunted Plantation

    The plantations of the southern United States are full of terrible history because of their connection with the cruel institution of slavery. It should come as no surprise, then, that many of them are believed to be haunted because of the terrible things that happened on them. The Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville, Louisiana may...

    Read More
  • Extinct Penguin Species Never Really Existed

    In 1983, scientists discovered four penguin bones in an archaeological site on Hunter Island in Tasmania. The 750-year-old bones were determined to belong to a previously unidentified species of penguin, which they then dubbed the Hunter Island penguin. As no living Hunter Island penguins existed, the species was declared extinct as soon as it was...

    Read More
  • The Scottish Head Hunter

    Jack Renton followed in the footsteps of many of his fellow Scotsmen when he decided to make his living from the sea. And, like a fair number of his fellow sailors, he found himself shanghaied in 1868 at the age of 20, meaning he was kidnapped and forced to work aboard someone else’s ship. Naturally,...

    Read More
  • Was Alexander the Great Killed by Poison Water?

    For centuries, historians believed that Alexander the Great, the Macedonian king and fearless military leader, died after one of his many all-night drinking parties. His drinking buddies reported that he cried out from a sudden, stabbing gut pain and took to his bed, from which he never got up again. He died twelve days later,...

    Read More
  • How a Tea Party Saved an American Regiment

    It was 1776, and Mary Lindley Murray found herself in an awkward position. This wealthy Quaker woman and wife of a wealthy merchant favored the American revolutionary cause. Her husband, however, was a known loyalist and supporter of the British. The Revolutionary War was going on all around her, and she was eventually faced with...

    Read More
  • Ancient Infant Ape Skull Sheds Light on Human Origins

    The lemon-sized skull of a baby ape was recently uncovered by scientists in northern Kenya. Though this at first sounds like an unremarkable find, the skull, which was buried under layers of volcanic ash, is at least 13 million years old. On top of this, researchers believe that it belongs to the earliest common ancestor...

    Read More
  • Was the Delphic Oracle “High”?

    Anyone who has read about or studied Greek history and mythology has heard of the Oracle of Delphi. The Oracle was a powerful priestess who spoke prophecies, supposedly after being filled by the spirit of the god Apollo. She supposedly delivered these prophecies while in some kind of trance. Historians and scientists have often wondered...

    Read More
  • Miracle Mike the Headless Chicken

    In September of 1945, Lloyd Olsen and his wife, Clara, a farming couple in Fruita, Colorado, were expecting company for dinner. Clara’s mother was coming for a visit, and chicken was on the menu. Knowing that his mother-in-law enjoyed chicken necks, Lloyd tried to leave as much neck as possible on the rooster he was...

    Read More